Monday, August 2nd, 2010
25

The Question That Confronts Every New Yorker Eventually

"I saw a woman weeping on the subway and I did nothing. Was that the appropriate response?" The answers may surprise etc.

25 Comments / Post A Comment

Matt (#26)

The answers may surprise etc.

You two.

Didn't Balk cover this last summer?

(Or was it he, not a random stranger, who was weeping? I guess I can't recall.)

(Nonetheless, I identify with both matters.)

KenWheaton (#401)

"Crying? Are you crying? There's no crying on the subway!"

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Rogers Hornsby was my manager, and he called me a talking pile of pigshit. And that was when my parents drove all the way down from Michigan to ride the 1 train. And did I cry?

+1, for 's' on end of Rogers.

garge (#736)

Balk can comfort me; everybody else: I have allergies.

G Garcia-Fenech (#4,190)

What is the etiquette for a stranger telling you that they lost their job at Subway because they have unidentified sores on their arms? He wasn't crying when he told me this.

LondonLee (#922)

The correct New York response is, of course "Quit ya fucking blubbing!"

Begin CPR immediately.

City_Dater (#2,500)

Offer tissues; don't meddle or pry.

Anything more is creepy. And pretending not to see is just sadder than the crying.

sigerson (#179)

On a semi-regular basis, I see people walking around midtown crying. A few years ago, I saw a middle-aged woman scurry out of an office building, covering her mouth and sobbing, with her younger sister or daughter close behind, looking shell shocked. Last year it was a young, somewhat attractive woman on a cell phone, imploring someone on the other end of the line to please please please give her whatever it was that she wanted from him/her. Just recently, I saw the "walk of shame" guidette in last night's outfit in the early morning hours of midtown, but she only looked like she RECENTLY had cried (i.e., she had her shit together and just needed a g.d. cab!).

The hypothetical subway ride is the context that creates the dilemma. If you're on the street and they're walking by in tears, you don't feel any compulsion to offer a hanky, give them a hug or otherwise recognize their pain.

brent_cox (#40)

I'd ask if they were ok, but usually I start crying too.

Rod T (#33)

I think you're supposed to video-record them, and then put it up on your Tumblr, yes?

meaghano (#3,200)

As someone who cried on the train this very morning, I say LOOK AWAY. Let the criers cry!

erikonymous (#3,231)

Sometime last year I saw a very large man riding the subway, standing up, holding the cross-bar for support, and tears were literally streaming down his cheeks. He looked up, resolutely, maybe to spare those of us witnessing, but my god that grown-ass man was crying his eyes out.
I wanted to give him a hug. I really hope he's ok.

Screen Name (#2,416)

@CaptainFantastic Heh. Nice. That URL is priceless.

doubled277 (#2,783)

Anytime I've been reduced to crying in public, it's pretty bad, life seems pretty shitty, and yes, I'd like someone to come offer me a human connection. Yes, I'd be embarrassed that a total stranger is seeing me like this, but I'm already embarrassed – um, because I'M CRYING IN PUBLIC – so yeah, human connection would be nice.

Ziggy (#529)

Here's what I say: When they cry, make your move and steal their soul.

Pintonator (#2,236)

Five years ago, after a series of deaths in the family, I developed a coping strategy where if I thought I was going to cry in the close, awkward environment of the subway, I hopped off at the next stop and started walking, because walking is calming and because New Yorkers know enough to leave an otherwise sane-looking person the hell alone when they're crying. It worked.

Then this spring I had to ride the subway after learning of another close death, and I once again got off the train to walk when I felt the tears coming. Only this time, no fewer than three people asked me for directions. Which I gave! Through tears!

The city has definitely changed.

cherrispryte (#444)

Here is a key thought that no one has mentioned: There are different kinds of crying, and the type of crying can usually indicate your response. Quiet weeping? Crying but trying to not make it look like you're crying? Crying with sunglasses on and hair curtaining face? Leave the crier alone.

Wracking sobs? Hysteria? Loudness? Get involved.

skahammer (#587)

I don't understand the hesitation here. After all, tears are delicious.

And they don't grow on trees — despite the cruelly misleading trick played by whoever named the "weeping willow."

I cry on the subway pretty regularly: every time I hear or even think about certain songs or read something sad or give money to a panhandler (especially embarrassing – what the hell is that?)

mae (#6,538)

I give cough drops to people who are coughing uncontrollably. Everyone seems to appreciate that.

Once I was crying on a platform and an old lady offered to buy me a water from the platform newsstand. I think that's pretty correct – she actually wanted to do something for me, and the gesture meant something even though I said no thanks.

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